Dr. Christina Derme Solves Your Relationship Problems

Dr. Christina Derme has her doctorate in Communication Studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She specializes in interpersonal communication and mass communication, with an emphasis in persuasion and media effects studies. She has been a faculty member in the department of Communication Studies at CSULB since the fall of 2000.


My friends never want to do anything adventurous with me! What's the best way to persuade them to step out of their comfort zones?
Gabrielle, Junior

The number one place to start is by knowing your audience. If they are never or rarely willing to even try anything new, your first step may be in investigating why they are apprehensive, and choosing a persuasive strategy afterward. Some specific persuasive strategies that have been known to work well in a situation such as this are: public commitment (individuals are more likely to comply if you can get them to commit to something publically), norm of reciprocity (e.g., “I drove you to school last week, now you should try zip lining with me.”) foot-in-the-door-strategy (e.g., “Let’s try a 10 foot cliff jump first, and then we’ll move on to the 50 foot cliff later.”).


I’ve never gotten along with my girlfriend's best friend, and it’s now really starting to bother my girlfriend. What should I do?
Levi, Super Senior

This might be a good opportunity for you to start practicing being diplomatic, patient, and flexible in interpersonal situations. So, how to do this, you ask? Practice being mindful. Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment to moment (Kabat-Zinn, 2003). Think about what motivates your girlfriend’s friend to act/talk the way she talks. Why does it bother you? Can you practice empathy?   There are exercises you can do to train yourself to be more mindful. Give it a try. Trust me, your girlfriend will notice the change in you, and will love you for it.


I hate begging my parents for money, but I’m really low on cash this month. How can I ask them without sounding pathetic?
Tom, Sophomore

First of all, it’s very unlikely your parents will see you as “pathetic,” but here’s a strategy you can try that will help both you and your parents save face and still get what you want. Try honesty and humility, e.g.,  “Mom and dad, I really hate to ask you for money, because you’ve done so much for me already, but this is a really bad month for me” (list various reasons why and what you need the money for). “We can set up a plan so I can pay you back over the next few months. I’ll really try to not ask again.” And then really try not to ask again.



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